Now about the collection for the Lord's people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me.1 Corinthians 16:2-4
Paul is talking about the collection that was being made in many churches to send to the troubled church in Jerusalem. Paul is anxious that these Gentile churches should have a part in helping the afflicted saints in Jerusalem. This is a beautiful picture of the way the church is one all over the earth. What happens to our brothers and sisters in other corners of the earth ought to be of immediate concern to us as well. So Paul exhorts these churches here in Corinth and other places to meet that need. In the process of doing this, he gives us some wonderful principles to govern our giving.
First, giving is a universal practice. This was not just something that the Corinthians had to do. Everywhere Paul went, wherever he founded a church, he taught them to give, because giving is an essential part of Christianity. It is not an option; it is something every Christian must do.
The second principle is that it is to be done every week: This is one of the first indications we have that the Christians had begun to gather regularly to worship and pray and give on the first day of the week, Sunday. The Jewish day of worship, of course, is Saturday. Even now these Christians have forsaken that and have begun to worship on the first day of the week.
Third, giving is a personal act. He says,
...each one of you... He does not leave anybody out. Even children ought to be taught to give. It may be only a few pennies, a nickel or a dime, but on every Sunday there ought to be a gift from every Christian. It is not the amount that is important at all, it is the regularity of it, the fact that there is a continual reminder that you have freely received, therefore, freely give. So each one is to do this. It is, in that sense, not an option.
Fourth, they are to save it up. He is referring to the fact that, in that culture, people got paid every day. They were to go home and put aside each day a certain amount of money so that on Sunday they would have a larger amount to bring to the services, and contribute to the needs of others.
Then a fifth principle is,
...in keeping with your income. That means you give according to the way God has given to you. Has he poured out abundantly? Then give abundantly. Are you having a hard time and barely making it? Well, then your gift can be reduced proportionately. It ought to be something, but it can be very little because God is really not interested in the total amount at all. He is only interested in the motive of the heart in giving.
The sixth principle is very important. Paul says do this,
...so that when I come no contributions need to be made. Paul knew that he, when he was personally present, had a tremendous effect on people. He did not want their giving to come because they were moved by his preaching, or in any other way be pressured into giving.
The seventh principle is seen in Verses 3-4,
...when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me. Giving should be carried out responsibly. Paul is careful that he does not have this responsibility himself. What a contrast this is with people today who exhort you to give, and then take the money themselves, and never give an accounting for it.
Thank you, Father, for the practicality of this section. I pray that I might apply these principles and may be generous with all that you have given me.
What are seven basic, practical principles for the practice of giving? Are we learning that as Jesus said 'It is more blessed to give than to receive?' Joy results from spontaneous compassion and simple obedience.